Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Forum: BBQs and Picnics

You probably didn't know this, but July is the National Picnic Month. Picnics and BBQs are both great ways to bring friends and family together over something most all of us love - food!

What are your favorite BBQ and picnic recipes? Do you ever host or attend picnics or BBQs in the summer months?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Link Love for 7/29

There's so much great stuff online right now, it's time for another roundup! Check out what we've been reading and be sure to leave a link in the comments to what you're reading and writing on the web.

Girl w/Pen tackles gender inequality, particularly the claim that housework is gender neutral.

Global Sisters calls out the Arizona immigration law for not only being racist, but anti-women.

In Good Company considers teaming up with a buddy when you own your own business.

Lindsey Pollak points to 5 career "super foods" you need to succeed, like setting daily goals.

One Writeous Chick has a touching piece about a friend she recently lost.

Woodhull Institute's blog talks about what high heels stand for when it comes to women and power.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Roller Coasters and Life

I recently went to an amusement park and re-discovered my love for roller coasters. The whole process of waiting on line, (my least favorite aspect, especially when the wait is long and the weather is unbearably hot) getting strapped to your seat, accelerating forward, the ride itself, and then the feeling of triumph after it is all over was an experience that constantly that day, and it made me think about how we should always do something that makes us step out of our comfort zone. Even when I remembered news reports of malfunctioning equipment that caused injuries and even death at amusement parks as I waited on line to ride for each ride, I quickly swept my worries away to enjoy the day.

After each roller coaster, I realized how much each ride on them reminded me of how life can be. There is a beginning, middle, and end, and it all goes by so fast; in between there twists and turns that catch us off guard, but ultimately we can survive and conquer our fears if we are smart; and life really is what you make of it. Some people hold their arms up on roller coasters and enjoy the ride, others close their eyes and wait for the experience to end, some refuse to go on any rides that frighten them, and then there are those who aren’t ready to raise their arms up, but they are getting there. I find myself in the latter category when it comes to roller coasters and life. I am willing to take chances and risks that will challenge me, but there is always some dread and fear on my part before it actually happens. I will continue to face my fears and challenge myself, even when my laziness attempts to get the best of me.

I am preparing myself for more roller coasters in the near future. In life, I think we all should prepare for the unexpected and challenging, if we haven’t already.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

When TV Takes Over Your Life

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m afraid TV has taken over my life! I’ve always watched, of course, either in the background or obsessively, as with Lost. But in general, if I had somewhere to go, chores to catch up on, or just some reading I wanted to do, I was fine with stepping away.

Now, watching is practically my job.

Through the various outlets I write for, I’m responsible for recapping four shows at the moment: Big Brother, Burn Notice, So You Think You Can Dance, and True Blood. That means there are about six hours of television I have to watch each week. This doesn’t sound like much, but when you’ve treated TV as casually as I have, this is a complete TV takeover. The worst part is that these shows are on the same three nights of the week. Whenever somebody asks if I’m free on a Sunday, Wednesday, or Thursday, I’m now in the habit of saying no almost automatically.

The good thing about this is that I’m forced to write at least six posts a week because of it. As somebody who has struggled in the past with just putting pen to paper (or keyboard to screen?), it feels good to constantly be writing. Missing a recap is simply not an option, so I have to write something. Of course, that means I also have to watch, even if I don’t get home until midnight because I was celebrating a friend’s birthday – see why I’ve started declining invites?

But I’ll stop complaining now because the good in this does outweigh the bad, especially since it means I’m doing more of what I love: writing and sharing the things I enjoy with other people.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dearly Beloved,

People always like to break the world up into binary groups, and I usually resist that, because I too-frequently end up on the fence between the two sides. For instance, in keeping with last week's Friday Forum, one might say there are two kinds of (single) people in the world: Those who want to get married, and those who don't.

Ummmm.....Fence, party of one?

I will say, however, that I've decided there are two kinds of weddings: Those that make me feel lonely and those that make me believe in love. I've been to a couple of weddings recently, and I consistently find myself turning all girlish and teary at the sight of a bride walking down the aisle. Gets me every time. Now, I can honestly say that I've never felt pressure to partner up and settle down--not from my family nor my friends, and not even from within myself--but sometimes I get a little nagging feeling it ever going to happen for me?

Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, this little feeling is matter-of-fact, not a source of distress. I figure, I'm enjoying my life and I have time. I'm lucky enough to live in a community where it's not unusual to find unmarried women of my age. I have friends, and I'm learning things about myself, and I negotiate the world enough to feel that I have options. So I count myself lucky. But when I'm sitting in the pew watching a great couple exchange vows, I think that it must be amazing to know that you will be side by side and hand in hand with someone forever.

Yes, I'm a romantic at heart. So how do you explain what happens next? I blot tears from my eyes, and by the time dinner is served and the music is pumping and I'm rocking around the dance floor with all our mutual friends, I've forgotten I even have tissues in my purse. And I tend to avoid vying for the bouquet.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Forum: Wedding Wows and Woes

Traditionally, the summer months are wedding season. Every year, millions of people get married, but the summer months are a time of love and high stress for a lot of couples.

What are some of your own wedding stories? What were the highs and lows of your own wedding planning? What are your favorite memories as wedding guests - sweet surprises or funny moments?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle

CHICKS ROCK! is happy to have Kristina back as a guest blogger this week.

Kristina Leonardi is the founder of The Women’s Mosaic. She is a career/life path consultant, speaker, seminar leader and expert in the areas of women, diversity and personal growth.

John and Abigail Adams. King Hussein and Queen Noor. Bill and Melinda Gates. Barack and Michelle Obama. These are just some couples who appear to have a great partnership as well as romance and passion in their marriages.

Back in the day (and in some parts in the world still) especially for women, being hitched was linked to survival or a business transaction between families. In 2010, where we can now lead successful independent lives, where does that leave us with the whole question of saying "I do"? (For an interesting musing on the subject check out Liz Gilbert's recent book, Committed.)

The 'fruits of feminism' have at times confused us all. As I recently heard in a lecture by sociologist and masculinity expert Michael Kimmel, if a woman is captain of the ice hockey team and top of her class at Yale, the guys subconsciously think, what the heck does she need me for?

Whether a woman or a man we all have needs, and then things we think are needs. You may not need another person to take care of you physically, emotionally, financially and/or spiritually, but everyone wants someone to love and to be loved in return, whether you're woman, man or even a fish. We look for partners, friends, lovers, intimacy. And that has nothing to do with what gender you are, era you were born in or who the object of your affection may be - it is a timeless, eternal and basic human instinct.

But before you tie the knot with another (or at any point throughout your nuptial bliss or blitz) I always recommend marrying yourself first- whatever that means to you. Because if you don't promise to love, honor and cherish yourself, then why would anyone else?

Can't quite make it to the altar with yourself or your beloved? I'm no Dr. Ruth, Millionaire Matchmaker or internet-ordained minister, but I can serve as 'justice of the peace' and help you discover that first comes self-love, then comes some form of marriage, then comes whatever it is you desire, even if it is just a cabbage.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dreaming In Reality

I am like many others who often think that many of my problems will disappear once I achieve some level of personal or financial stability. I was thinking the other day about owning my own house, and how everything else will fall into place once that happens; I shook myself out of that reverie once I realized how fanciful my thoughts wered. It is always good to dream, and it is my opinion that those who claim that they don‘t are either lying or have given up on life. At the same time, we should not live primarily to dream. Life is messy, and the things we dream about may not always come to be, but sometimes this is for the best.

I once knew someone who told everyone that she wanted her future husband to be tall, dark, and handsome. She couldn't imagine anything different from the image she had in her mind, so when she first met the man she would eventually marry, she did not think of him as “husband material.” Eventually her fantasy of the perfect man changed as she learned more about his good qualities, and everyone who knows her can see she is with the right person; maturity and reality became her guides as she shed her unrealistic dreams of perfection.

Not all dreams should be significantly altered or given up completely; being successful at a career you love is entirely possible, even if there are obstacles on this ascending path. I just think that we as human beings should learn to adapt to the ever changing flow of life. Sometimes what we dream of changes completely or becomes a reality in ways we never would have imagined. I also think that as we work toward making our lives better we should enjoy moments in the present. I don‘t mean to be ominous, but none of us really know how long we have in this life! Finding happiness in the present is important as we move forward to an uncertain future.

Do you agree with my thoughts on dreams and reality?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ditching the Plan

I’m usually a very organized person, planning things well in advance. Even when I decide to do something last-minute, I still take a moment to think about a plan before getting started. This weekend took me out of my comfort zone, but I had a great time.

It started on Saturday, when I had a birthday party planned for my guy. I wanted to get up early to make sliders, chicken tenders, etc. before anybody started coming over. But it didn’t exactly turn out that way… Everyone got up late, so I couldn’t clean up or get started with cooking until quite late in the day. By the time we were getting food in the oven and on the stovetop grill, there were already several people in the apartment. My sister was surprised and said “Why didn’t you already have this done? This is not like you.” But instead of dwelling on it as I normally might, I had fun with it and focused on getting it done. I missed out on the beginning of the party, but the food was a hit.

I guess that attitude carried over to the next day. The only plan I had for the day was an early workout and then cleaning the apartment. After the workout, however, we decided to grab lunch at a cute spot nearby. Then my guy decided he wanted to get his tattoo and asked us if we were interested in going with him. My sister and I headed down, and we both ended up getting tattoos at the last minute. Then, despite being exhausted and planning to clean and sleep for the rest of the night, we thought it’d be fun to go to the movies instead.

After a weekend of ditching the plan and dabbling in spontaneity, I can definitely see the appeal. Sure, I’m beyond exhausted and the apartment is a mess, but I had a great time, I got the tattoo I’ve been wanting for a while, and spent quality time with my sister. I may be doing this more often.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Old Familiar Pages

I've taken a bit of a break from my work life over this past week. I'm calling it "vacation," as opposed to "slacking," but in reality, it's probably somewhere on the borderline. Basically I've been sitting around watching movies and new summer t.v. series by night, and by day, poring over my bookshelves and re-reading some favorite volumes.

I'm a big fan of re-reading books. They fall into different categories for me, for example: 1) books I recall enjoying, but can't remember too much about the actual story; 2) ones I read and loved and remember, and just want to dive into again to recapture a certain feeling; and 3) ones I started but never finished, for whatever reason. Sometimes I know exactly what I'm getting into, and other times I'm surprised by what I find inside a familiar cover.

This time around I've tackled Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling), The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins), I Was Told There'd Be Cake (Sloane Crosley), and a couple of paperbacks each by Lee Child and Sandra Brown. I sometimes feel a bit guilty for reading books I've already read, when there are so many new books out there waiting to be discovered. And, for diving repeatedly toward such bestsellers, when there are many new young authors like myself whose work may entertain, comfort, excite, or inspire me just as much.

Books have a way of opening new worlds for me, and nothing parallels the thrill of turning a page and truly not knowing what happens next. Still, there are times when I want to be lulled by familiar words, to turn to characters I've already met and who I can return to as one might turn to good friends, and to look forward to a particular scene or turn of phrase that meets my mood at that moment. I crave new adventures, sure, but sometimes tracing a well-traveled path is wonderful, too.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Forum: Globe Trotter

Summer vacations are a great time to explore new countries around the world. Even though vacations are only a few days or a few weeks, it's hard not to imagine what it'd be like to live in the places we visit.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose to live and why?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Summer Break 2010 - Day 4

It's day 4 of our summer break here at CHICKS ROCK!

Today, we want you to read through our guest bloggers' posts. Take a look at the diverse experiences they've brought to the blog, and be sure to submit your own post.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer Break 2010 - Day 3

It's day 3 of our summer break here at CHICKS ROCK!

Take a look back and read through Pauline's posts to connect with her thoughts and experiences. Leave a comment and engage on a post you like.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summer Break 2010 - Day 2

It's day 2 of our summer break here at CHICKS ROCK!

Today, look back at read back on Sally's posts and connect with her thoughts and experiences. Leave a comment and join the conversation on a post you like.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Summer Break 2010 - Day 1

It's time for our summer break here at CHICKS ROCK!

Today, we encourage you to read back on Kekla's posts and connect with her thoughts and experiences. Be sure to leave a comment and jump-start the conversation on a post you like.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday Forum: Marathon Miles

The spring and summer is a busy time for marathon runners. The Boston Marathon a couple of months back was a major event, but there are various races left throughout the country and abroad before the New York City Marathon in the fall.

Are you a current or aspiring marathon runner? Do you have any marathons, half marathons or 50k races coming up? What are your personal goals?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Link Love for 7/8

Since we went so long without spreading the link love around, we think it's okay to have one again so close to our last round-up, right? So here are some great things we've read online recently.

Girl w/Pen lets us know about a new workplace practice "Results-Only Work Environment" that might be a great move.

Global Sisters shares the findings of a new survey that found gender equality is universally embraced, a promising finding.

In Good Company highlights a post about why you need to take a vacation without your kids.

Lindsey Pollak's blog wants us to learn the secrets of summer career success, like swapping magazines for bios.

NYWSE has a great piece up about using your unique skills to create positive social change.

Hope you enjoy the reading material. What have you been reading and writing lately?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Sticky Situation

I recently found myself in a sticky situation with my downstairs neighbor, who I had never met before. I just come back from a vacation, and was sitting at my computer when I heard the woman enter through the front door. I heard her rummaging through her grocery bags for a few minutes, and then I heard her get extremely agitated. At first I thought she was yelling at herself, her cat, or at someone on the phone, because I heard her do so on several occasions. When I heard her addressing “the person upstairs,” I was shocked. She complained angrily about the possibility of her eviction, confusion about the rent, her astrological sign, and how she shouldn't be messed with. In other words, it made no sense.

I immediately starting wondering what it was all about. When I am in my apartment, I move around with soft slippers, socks, and my bear feet. I put down area rugs and rug pads in my bedroom and living room, which are requirements in my lease. I also don’t have a television or other noisy appliances that would bother others in the building. In short, I am a very respectful neighbor.

When the episode was over, I met with the assistant apartment manager of my building, who told me that the woman has had difficulties with former occupants and other management personnel. He offered to meet her to ask if she needed anything, and then introduce me to her. I went along with the plan, and it worked out well; I even shook hands with her twice. I walked away from the meeting relieved and a little sad; she appears to have little social contact with people, and her physical and mental capabilities are definitely declining. We did not bring up her earlier tirade, and I sincerely hope it doesn’t happen again. If it does, I will make sure to take appropriate action. For now, I am glad I handled the situation with tact.

How do you handle difficult situations like these? What would you do differently?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Back to School for Your M.R.S.?

I was talking to some friends a few weeks ago and one of them revealed a shocker - at least to me. He mentioned that all of the women on his team at work have admitted that they went to business school was to find a husband. In the 21st century? Really?! There must be cheaper ways to meet men, no?

We didn't talk about this for very long because it was mentioned during a bigger discussion, and either way, the women weren't there for me to ask personally, but this still struck me. I'm going to have to assume, for starters, that nabbing a man was only part of the reason. Business school is expensive, after all, and these women are now working for a major corporation so it's not like they're the 1950s M.R.S. degree stereotype.

But... still. The fact that these women would openly admit that they wanted to go to business school to get a husband makes me think that 1) there must be at least some truth to it and 2) it must be more than a tiny part of their thinking. Which I find shocking and confusing.

Graduate school is really expensive nowadays, and finding something compelling enough to keep your interest for at least a few years is hard. Not to mention the fact that once you get to grad school, you have to work hard and keep your attention on your studies and advancing your career. The idea that, on top of those worries, somebody would want to search for a spouse seems strange to me.

Am I alone in this? Do any of you know somebody who went to grad school to find a husband? What do you think of this?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Twilight Too

Sally's post about the Twilight series rang a bell with me. I, too, am a devoted fangirl of Harry Potter and my new fantasy love is Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games trilogy, yet, I can't get into Twilight. Part of me wishes I could get it, but part of me is glad to be on the outside of this particular trend.

I read the first book, saw the first movie, and had no interest or intention of continuing to follow the story. This weekend a group of friends dragged me to see movie #3, Eclipse. I confess, I enjoyed the film, despite moments of confusion about the larger arc of the plot. In talking with my fangirl friends after the fact, I began to understand the appeal a bit better--but this understanding left me a bit unsettled.

Here's my problem. The basic premise of Eclipse is that Bella loves Edward (vampire) but also has feelings for Jacob (werewolf). In order to be with Edward, her "true love," Bella must sacrifice her humanity, cut herself off from her family forever, and become a vampire. Jacob, meanwhile, tries to convince her to be with him, because he can accept her for who she is, no change required.

When it comes to choosing teams, I'm with Jacob all the way. I like a good love story, and I get that relationships involve sacrifice and compromise, but I'm uneasy with the message that a girl should give up everything for a guy, even one who promises to love her forever. My fangirl friends argue that I'm reading too much into it, and I should just go with the fantasy. What do you think? Am I a major spoilsport?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday Forum: Holiday Plans

With Canada Day behind us, and the 4th of July this weekend, let's celebrate!

What do you do to celebrate independence each year? Family picnic? Watching the fireworks? A weekend abroad? What do you have planned for the holiday?

Thursday, July 1, 2010


CHICKS ROCK! is happy to have Kristina back as a guest blogger this week.

Kristina Leonardi is the founder of The Women’s Mosaic. She is a career/life path consultant, speaker, seminar leader and expert in the areas of women, diversity and personal growth. Join her at Dream Job Hunting on Monday, July 12.

I had not paid much attention to the World Cup until last week when I happened to catch the second half of the US-Algeria game. The best part was that I was watching it on Univision, so when the US won, the emotional factor went off the charts with the Latin announcers scream-singing "GOOOOAAAALLLL" accompanied by the unbridled enthusiasm that only they can express about the how and why of the win, especially after the bad calls against them in previous games. "La esperanza! La fe! El corazon sobre la forma! La lucha y el espiritu de este equipo que triunfo, que es justo!..."

If you don't speak Spanish, the gist is this: it was all about the spirit,determination, fight and heart of the team, not necessarily anything technical that got them the win. After that, I watched with excitement their dramatic game with Ghana on Saturday. Although they did not advance further, Team USA surely did not lose.

The flamboyant, gender-bending US Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir has had ups and downs throughout his career and his share of unfair marks by international judges. All along he refused to be anything but who he is and always excelled when he put the "Johnny" back in the performance along with his love of the sport, and his costumes.

Although he did not bring home a medal from Vancouver, he skated his personal best and received incredible press, speaking engagements, his own reality show and a bright future ahead. Because he worked extremely hard, remained genuine and let his spirit shine through, Johnny surely did not lose.

What both our soccer team and Weir have in common is that they represented the USA with passion and perseverance, and in true American style embraced who they are, carried on in spite of all obstacles and were victorious in their own ways.

In honor of our upcoming Independence Day, let your Unique Spirit and Authenticity overtake whatever you do and see what happens!

Disclaimer: Blog entries express the opinions of the respective Bloggers/Contributors/Authors/Commenters solely, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Women's Mosaic. As host and manager of CHICKS ROCK!, TWM acts solely as a provider of access to the internet and not as publisher of the content contained in bloggers' posts and cannot confirm the accuracy or reliability of individual entries. Each participant is solely responsible for the information, analysis and/or recommendations contained in her blog posts.
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